Perhaps the best known trout in Kootenay Lake is the rainbow. Indeed, the Lake contains a few genetically distinct populations of rainbow trout, the largest (and thus most famous) of which is the gerrard, named after a spawning creek at the north end of the Lake. Contributing to the size of the gerrard is the good nutrition it gains by eating kokanee.

The rainbow trout is a member of genus Oncorhynchus. Unfortunately, the name, trout, is also applied to members the genus Salvelinus: the Char. The bull trout is a char. Although both the rainbow trout and the bull trout are given the name, trout, they look and behave differently: the rainbow has dark spots and spawns in the spring; the bull has light spots and spawns in the fall. These are quite different fish.

Adding to the confusion is the dolly varden, a name locals often apply to the bull trout. However, the bull trout and the dolly varden are different species (albeit both being char) and the dolly varden is not found in Kootenay Lake or surrounding streams.

A confusing aspect of these fish is their variable colour. Some of this is a reaction to surroundings—a camouflage—and so can change as the fish moves to different habitats. Some of these colour variations are evident in the pictures, below.

rainbow trout on a hookThis rainbow trout was hooked. It is nearing the lake surface and its reflection is apparent on the underside of the surface. A short time later,the fish was released.

rainbow troutThis rainbow trout was swimming in the shallows along the lakeshore—notice the dark spots. This fish grows large by eating kokanee fry.

rainbow trout dorsal finThe rainbow trout is reputed to have gained its name from a pinkish band, seen here in the lower left. Yet, the colouration of this fish can vary widely.

gerrard trout femaleA female gerrard rainbow trout begins preparing the gravel for spawning.

gerrard trout pairA male (closest) and female gerrard rainbow trout swim side by side in the Lardeau River.

gerrard trout pairA female (left) and male Gerrard Trout as seen from within the stream.

gerrard trout pairPrior to spawning, the male rainbow trout swims around the female and crosses over her tail. This is probably what is going on in the dance at the bottom. In the background are seen more trout.

gerrard trout femaleThe female gerrard rainbow trout is on the left; the male is on the right.

bull troutThis bull trout is swimming in the Main Lake. Compare its spots with those of the rainbow trout below.

rainbow trout spotsLeft: a rainbow trout has dark spots.
Right: a bull trout has bright, redish spots.

osprey with rainbow troutLeft: a rainbow trout has dark spots.
Right: a bull trout has bright, redish spots.

osprey with rainbow troutAn osprey has caught a rainbow trout. Its head is consumed first.

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